May 29, 2024
Press Releases

CSG Applauds Biden Measures to Support Private Sector and Expand Internet Access in Cuba

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Cuba Study Group applauds the Biden-Harris administration’s new regulations facilitating greater U.S. support for the Cuban private sector and expanded internet access on the island. These announcements represent the culmination of pledges made by President Biden in May of 2022.

Amid the island’s worst economic crisis in thirty years, independent Cuban entrepreneurs have been filling the void left by state enterprises increasingly unable to provide basic goods and services to their citizens. Against many odds, they are establishing distribution, production, and supply chains that put food on Cuban tables. The measures announced yesterday—which include authorizing independent Cuban entrepreneurs to open accounts in U.S. banks and better access cloud-based internet services—will propel greater integration with U.S. markets for sourcing resources, supplies and new customers. By reducing transaction costs and increasing competition, they will also hopefully help the Cuban private sector make a greater array of goods available to the Cuban population at lower prices.

At the same time, we wish these measures had come sooner. In the two years since the Biden-Harris administration announced its intention to support the Cuban private sector, Cuba’s economic crisis has worsened significantly. Out-migration, mostly toward the United States, has been record-shattering. To be clear, slow and insufficient domestic reforms by Cuban authorities to generate investment and productive economic activity are primary drivers of the decline. But U.S. inaction and codified sanctions have only compounded suffering on the ground. In the many months this package was held up to facilitate congressional dealmaking on other White House priorities, the United States missed an opportunity to provide concrete support to the Cuban people at their greatest time of need in recent memory, and to those entrepreneurial change-makers that represent one of the few bright spots in Cuba today.

Thus, the Biden-Harris administration’s actions should not stop here. We call on the President to follow up yesterday’s measures with broad authorizations for direct correspondent banking and U.S. investment in Cuba’s private sector. Both are key forms of support that Cuban entrepreneurs have demanded and need to thrive. As U.S. geopolitical rivals seek to shape their own vision of economic reforms in Cuba, such efforts could not come at a more opportune moment. 

Just as importantly, we call on the Cuban government to urgently modify its own laws and regulations to formally allow private small- and medium-sized enterprises to accept foreign direct investment and financing. A stronger, more consistent commitment to economic and political liberalization is necessary if the Cuban economy is to ever find a sustainable path to recovery.


Photo credit: Eliana Aponte / The New York Times

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